I  Remember Fairbanks


in his bright mauve blazer. I remember his hands,

the voluminous pocks of his crippled face. I recall

the way he danced at the precipice, a sprig of sweetbrier

in his odoriferous maw. I remember he pawed the barmaid

every time she passed—then he howled at the antler-chandelier.

My memories of Banks are clearer than the waters

of an Alaskan brook. Fairbanks could not cook. Once

he served me ground beef wrapped in a leaf and bathed

in a mysterious whitesauce. Mischievous birds rifled

through the canopy overhead. I was offput by their

knowing laughter. I wanted to hang from a rafter and kick

wildly at Fairbanks, but he was already off on a virulent

mission. His trek was fueled by an obscure superstition—

something about a God of the Corn, or else he hoped

to smother a contagion before it whisked its tremens

through indigenous corpuscles. I imagined him stroking

the muscles of a young laborer—checking his chart

to appear serious, though inside he was delirious about

the genius of his prank. His shoes stank, so he flung them

from the window of a Swiss hotel. His dress was inimical

yet avuncular. He wore the trousers an aspiring punk

might wear. He spoke of the wear and tear, the blear nights,

the caravansary shattered by the lapping tongues of lamplight

infusing gypsy songs with the giddy fragrance of oleander.

His is a jeremiad of love and unreason. He roamed the streets

with treasonous youths spouting perverted yet compelling

truths that somehow tasted of the future. I am the one who

sutured his forehead the morning after his brawl with the mayor.

I am—yes—the land surveyor. What the fight was over

no one knows. They stared at each other in silence for nine

minutes before it came to blows. Fairbanks bit the mayor’s

flaccid nipple. The mayor squealed—fear rippling across his

formidable brow. It was a legendary row. One photo depicts

the blurring trajectory of a fist and the spray of bodily

juices. This picture was not enhanced. The crowd called for

a sacrifice and both men found they were in History’s blind

grip. Somewhere, at that moment, a ship narrowly missed

plunging into the bayonet of a night-masked iceberg. The mayor—

Zbigniew Goldberg—headbutted no avail.

A scree of cheers puffed Banks into a hurricane of violence.

He bludgeoned flesh until the courtyard was oppressed by silence.





Get Segovia


If you’re going to hire a guitarist for the event,

get Segovia. Not Andrés. The other, younger

Segovia. He’s not related. In fact, he’s hated

by purists for his sloppy, irreverent solos. He wears

bolo ties and snakeskin boots. Still, his fingers

shoot down the frets at lightning speed. He

pursues the essence of a Bach minuet with

a sort of artistic greed. Half of him doesn’t

give a fuck. The other half needs to chase down

the sublime like a frenzied hound pursuing

a terrified fox into a thicket shattered by moonlight.

Once I heard him turn Schubert into a blues

using a penlight for a slide. One couple rose

and left the theater in a huff. Others expressed

gruff criticisms afterwards in the lobby. I really

enjoyed the piece, though I had front row seats

and Segovia was a bit gassy. But that was

a small price to pay. Another time he plucked

a raucous César Franck. Somehow, though

he was playing an unmic-ed acoustic, I heard

the swell of a piercing wave of feedback. It

seemed to be pooling and flowing from the rear

of the auditorium. When it finally ended—his

fingers tripping playfully down a golden staircase

of notes—I demanded more of him. Not because

he had let me down, but because I was drunk and

couldn’t face the blank page of sobriety. After

that night he began to suffer from notoriety. While

he enjoyed it at first, it soon affected his playing.

His fugues lacked staying power, and his arpeggios

were uninspired. He seemed to be mired in the

expectations of the crowd. He tried playing loudly

and matching the notes with his shrill, nicotine-frayed

voice. That was a bad choice, but at least he was

searching. One time, in the middle of a Brahms,

I noticed his hand lurching—it appeared uncontrollably—

up and down the neck. Minutes later he collapsed,

his tear-shaped guitar in splinters. The audience cheered,

and the flash-bulbs strobed their oblivion. Had he

forgotten what age he was living in? After that night

he got wise. He lay low for a while. And he practiced.

Soon he went back on tour playing smaller venues.                                                                                    

His menu was the same: Paganini, Grieg, and Schumann.

And he still dressed like a bluesman. Anyway, he’s

got the fire and I recommend him without reservation.